LANDOWNERS COULD be better off keeping their woodland out of the new environmental stewardship scheme, according to land agent Savills.

Simon Gardner, an agricultural business consultant with the firm, said that effort of registering woodland on digital Land Registry maps for the Entry Level Scheme could be wasted.

This is because ELS farmers must accumulate 30 points per hectare (12 points/acre) for environmental assets like hedgerows, field margins and conservation strips across the land registered on the maps in order to qualify for the payments.

“It is a widely held view that all areas of woodland, water, scrub and track should be registered on these maps, but there are cases where this may not be prudent,” said Mr Gardner.

“Very few points are available for woodland or woodland boundaries, and careful calculation is essential in order to establish whether the entire registered acreage can generate the points required to trigger the ELS payments.”

Wooded areas of 10ha (25 acres) or more and land on a short-term tenancy (five years or less) could probably be excluded from the ELS calculations, he said.

Points would not be awarded for land already in a Countryside Stewardship Scheme, he added.